Letter from the General Manager: January - February 2017

Robert E. Doyle

Climate Change
A Message from General Manager Robert E. Doyle
January - February 2017

The Park District’s top priority is keeping our parks, shorelines, lakes and trails safe and well-maintained. A big part of that responsibility is preparing for the future: Taking steps now to adapt to a changing climate, and a rising San Francisco Bay.

We’re starting to see some impact now. At Hayward Regional Shoreline, higher tides due to sea-level rise have led to increased erosion and occasional trail flooding. Many of our lakes have been subject to toxic algae blooms, and drought has had a significant impact on our forests and woodlands.

The National Research Council predicts sea-level rise of 36.1 inches along the California coast by the end of the century. We’re working now to protect some of the East Bay’s most vulnerable low-lying areas by repairing levees and restoring wetlands, which help absorb rising tides and provide a buffer to protect homes, roads and other urban infrastructure. In Richmond, we’re restoring 60-acre Dotson Family Marsh (formerly Breuner Marsh) at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, a major undertaking that’s funded by more than 10 agencies.

In the East Bay hills, we’re reducing the risk of wildfires by thinning trees and shrubs where our hills and ridges have become drier. We’re also thinning eucalyptus, which pose a fire risk to adjacent communities because of density and flammability. Our goal is to maintain a healthy, biologically diverse ecosystem that’s beneficial to wildlife and safe for residents, especially as droughts are expected to become more common.

Toxic algae has plagued waterways throughout the world in recent years. In response to toxic algae blooms in several of our lakes, we’ve worked closely with state and local environmental agencies to monitor all of our lakes, explore treatment options and ensure public safety.

Across both counties, we continually promote and expand our system of regional bike trails. These trails – including the San Francisco Bay Trail, Iron Horse Trail and others – take thousands of cars off the road by providing bike and pedestrian links to schools, workplaces, BART stations, shopping districts and parks.

But perhaps the most important step we’re taking to prepare for climate change is preserving more than 120,000 acres of the East Bay’s most special places in perpetuity, and providing opportunities to explore these lands. Whether it’s a hike in the redwoods, a swim in a lake, a picnic in a shady glade or a kids’ class on wildlife, we believe that experiencing and appreciating nature is the most important first step toward saving it.

See you on the trail!